Wine Dine and Play: Waffle House

Waffle House

Scattered and Smothered
25 States With 2,100 Locations
Home Office in Atlanta, Georgia USA
Cuisine Style: Breakfast, American diner
Average Price: $
Overall Rating: 0.5/5
This article was written in December 2017
By Sean Overpeck (CFE)
**A full article and index glossary of restaurants, wines, recipes and travel for 
Wine Dine and Play are in the pages section above, or by following these links:

Waffle House, Inc., is a classic American all-day breakfast and lunch menu themed restaurant chain with more than 2,100 owned and franchised locations in 25 states. Most of the locations are in the Southeast, where the chain is a regional cultural icon. Waffle House is headquartered in Norcross, Gwinnett County, Georgia. 

    • Eggs or omelets to order
    • Hashbrowns 
    • Waffle assortments
    • Sides
    • Salads
    • Hot Sandwiches Melts & burgers
    • Steaks and cheesesteaks
    • Desserts

Iconic menu items include Alice’s Iced Tea, Bert’s™Chili, Waffle House Coffee, and the newest grouping called The Test Kitchen where items such as the new blueberry waffle and Texas Biscuits have been added.
The story of Waffle House begins with Joe Rogers, Sr., buying a house from Tom Forkner in Avondale Estates, Georgia in 1949. At the time Joe worked for an American diner chain called Toddle House started in the late 1920s, by J.C. Stedman as a 24/7 breakfast spot. Joe and Tom wanted to create a restaurant focused on people while serving quality food at a great value. With that, the first Waffle House opened on Labor Day weekend in 1955. The concept was to combine the speed of fast food with table service and around-the-clock availability. In 1960, Waffle House, now a chain of three restaurants, opened a fourth restaurant, and the company began franchising its restaurants and slowly grew to 27 stores by the late 1960s before growth accelerated. 

The company is privately held and does not disclose annual sales figures, but says they serve 2% of the eggs used in the nation's food-service industry. Up until recently when they began accepting credit cards, they were a cash-only business. Although they are a chain located mainly in the Southeast, it has reached north to Austinburg, Ohio, and as far to the West as Goodyear, Arizona, in the suburbs of Phoenix, and as far to the South as American property can go in Key West, Florida. In 2007, Waffle House repurchased the original restaurant, which was sold by the chain in the early 1970s and restored it using original blueprints for use as a private company museum. The museum is used primarily for internal corporate events and tours and open to the public.

The servers use a now patented diner lingo to call in their orders, and the menu mentions some of that lingo when placing orders for hash brown potatoes.  Once the order is taken on an old ordering pad, with no computers, the server stands next to the grill and yells out the order. Starting with the eggs and preferred bread, and moving on to the main event with the hash browns.  "Scattered" meant to spread them on the grill with oil, "smothered" meant to add onions, "covered" was to finish with a slice of cheese after the hash browns were flipped over, "chunked" meant to add diced ham, "diced" added tomatoes, "peppered" added jalapeño peppers, "capped" added mushrooms, and the final topping was "topped" which meant that you add Bert’s chili after you take the order off the grill. You could also just order them "all the way.”

As they yell out the order, the grill cook grabs an empty plate, then uses a package of jam and places it on the plate. Depending on where its placed or which direction tells him and any other operators how the eggs are to be cooked. For omelets, it is placed on the plate and if the customer wants ham or onion added to the omelet they place a small diced piece of each next to the jelly packet. For the hash browns, they place a few shredded rehydrated pieces on the plate, then diced pieces of what they want in it from the “smothered” to the “capped.” This way during a rush when you have ten plates lines up with orders you know where every egg, hash brown, and waffle goes without making a mistake. You think its good memory, but there is a system. 

I worked as a manager at Waffle House from 1999 to early 2001 at several locations south of Atlanta after leaving the military, and they were my first hands-on experience to corporate fast-food style cooking and service. As it relates to food safety with the 1993 deaths from E. coli as a result of undercooked hamburgers at a Jack in the Box, the Dateline NBC television news magazine in 2004 investigated sanitation practices of popular American family restaurant chains, measuring the number of critical violations per inspection. The Waffle House averaged 1.6 critical violations per inspection. Waffle House's response to the study pointed out that they prepare all meals in an open kitchen, and consumers can readily observe their sanitation practices themselves.

Though from working with the company in this open-air environment before the NBC story, I witnessed on regular basis things such as cooks and servers smoking cigarettes while preparing the grits and eggs which was commonplace in all the stores I worked at or visited. The hash browns were delivered in dehydrated containers, filled with water, then left at room temperature instead of below 41°f to avoid foodborne illness. The practices of the time and temperature abuse were just starting to become part of food safety law under the new FDA codes and ServSafe, but it was still known, and commonly ignored. The grits were prepared on the night shift as early as midnight and left out in a heating unit to be served to start at the breakfast rush of 5am all the way until noon. The recommended hot holding time is not supposed to exceed five hours for any products. This just scratched the surface of what went on behind the scenes, and that goes beyond the Waffle House to most chain restaurants.  When I moved on from Waffle House and began taking courses in food safety I then realized all the violations that we did and how it was possible that we could have been making people sick. As time has gone on, things have improved. US laws ban smoking in restaurants, and food safety courses for restaurant managers are now mandatory. 

Waffle House is still a Southern American family restaurant icon that continues to grow, and it focuses on the challenges to food safety and customer service. Like any restaurant they have problems, but they still provide a service that people want. When I worked in Afghanistan from 2009-2013 I contacted the Waffle House corporate office for permission to use their logo and terms to make a breakfast and dinner grill special of hash browns for the soldiers. It was an amazing hit, and the concept spread to many other dining facilities on other FOB’s. Soldiers that were from the West coast and never heard of Waffle House wanted to eat there when they returned home from their tour of duty. The concept is now also practiced at dining facilities in Iraq, with a change in name to “Almost Waffle House Hashbrowns.” The founders would be proud that their logo and name made it over to Asia for the troops, and it is sad that both of them died in 2017 within two months of each other. Joe Rodgers, Sr., passed away on March 3, 2017, and Tom Forkner passed away on April 26, 2017.

Pecan or Apple pies are heated on the grill covered with a dome to keep in the moisture, then served with whipped cream.

Other Noteworthy Breakfast Articles and Restaurants:
Al Fanar Restaurant and Café Authentic Emirati Cuisine, Festival City, Dubai, UAE
Café du Monde Iconic café & coffeehouse serving beignets since 1862 in New Orleans, Louisiana
First Watch Café chain for health-minded breakfast, brunch, & lunch; reviewed in Tampa, Florida
Fugitives Drift Lodge and Zulu Battlefields African Cuisine Buffet, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa 
High Cotton Refined eatery with Lowcountry fare and Southern Brunch in Charleston, South Carolina
Metro Diner Local diner chain with classic American Breakfast & Lunch; Reviewed in St. Petersburg, Florida
Paradise Grille Beachside joint offering casual American eats in Pass-A-Grille, Florida
Safar Restaurant Arabic and Emirati blended buffet at the Dubai International Airport (DXB), UAE 
Stella’s Restaurant Southern-inspired comfort eats and diner in Gulfport, Florida
The Dutch Kitchen Buffet of Dutch and French cuisine at the Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam
The Jungle Junction Zimbabwe & International tastings buffet at the Victoria Falls Hotel in Zimbabwe

See the whole list by visiting “The Wine Dine and Play Article Glossary

Other Atlanta restaurants and articles on Wine Dine and Play:

Sci-Fi Convention Event at the Hyatt, Atlanta
Seasonally inspired continental European fare, downtown Atlanta and airport
Upmarket Brazilian chain Churrasco in Buckhead 

A Few other Georgia Favorites:

Eclectic tavern for Surf 'n' Turf  in Griffin, Georgia
Hip burger chain with space-age decor 
Midtown, Atlanta
Farm-to-Table Southern bites spot Sandy Springs

See the whole list by visiting “The Wine Dine and Play Article Glossary by country

Final notes, review basics, and observations:

Most reviews are subjective, depending on the writer; but they should also be responsible, and respectfully written, upholding the truth, and accurately conveying the experience to the best of the writer's knowledge, even if it includes metaphors the restaurant may not like to read about. My ratings are by the stars I award (from 0 to 5). The rating is calculated on a point accumulation of six separate factors based on individual experience. They include wine and other beverage selections, plate presentation, customer service, restaurant or café ambiance, food quality, and wow factor. To see more details of this rating list, read this article:

Overall from this experience, and the score factors outlined in the ‘about page’ section, based on my individual experience and rating, I give Waffle House a 0.5 out of 5 stars, meaning that they did not exceed my expectations and were a very basic dining experience compared to most restaurants. Maybe if I hadn’t worked there and seen the food code violations first hand and daily, or saw how the bathrooms looked even after being cleaned, then the rating would have been higher. Does that mean this is a bad place to eat? No, it is a classic American style diner, that just needs more training of employees and self-awareness. 
Scores are detailed in the chart below


Overall Star Rating:
0.5 of 5 Stars: 
64% Rating with a 0 point “wow” bonus
A Very Basic Dining Experience
Restaurant style:
Casual dining
Cuisine Style:
American, Breakfast all-day

Allergen or dietary accommodations: 
Not Required
Dress code:
Casual attire
Child policy:

The Restaurants reviewed on this site may have a kids menu or cater to them; however, for full enjoyment of food and wine, it is recommended that kids not to be in attendance, unless they have been trained in proper etiquette. 
If not then:
Hire a Babysitter! 
Hole-in-the-wall, Tourist grabber
Cash, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express
Private lot
The restaurants reviewed on this site may have Wi-Fi, but do not require you to go online, because the excitement of the food and wine alone will keep you too entertained instead of checking your social media and emails.
Noise level:
Medium to Loud
a nonsmoking restaurant in most states
Patio or terrace:

Food Prices 
(excludes, alcohol, taxes & 20% gratuity’s)

$£€¥ -                Under 50.00 (inexpensive)
$£€¥ x 2 -          51.00- 99.00 (moderate)
$£€¥ x 3 -          Over 100.00 (pricy)
$£€¥ x 4 -          Over 200.00 (expensive)
$£€¥ x 5 -          Over 400.00 (very expensive)

**Currencies reflect the world’s major travelers, restaurant, or wine connoisseur’s**

United States Dollar (USD)
Great Britain Pound Sterling (GBP)
Canadian Dollar (CAN)
Chinese Yuan (CNY)  
European Union (EUR)

Waffle House:

Corporate Headquarters
5986 Financial Drive,
Norcross, GA 30071

Contact Information: 
Restaurant website:
Maître d or host:
+1800 344 2968
+1 770 729 5700
Website Contact:
Serving hours:
Eastern Standard Time
(GMT, Zulu, or UTC - 5:00)
24 hours a day

Social Media 
Facebook link                

The worlds best restaurants is a subjective list of who is writing it and changes on a regular basis. The Wine Dine and Play best experiences are based on my highest rated stared restaurants, meaning that the visit was an outstanding or extraordinary experience. From cafés, chains, mom + pops, hole in the walls, to fine dining including a few Michelin spots. Visit the Top 100 page to see the entire list.

A few to tease you with…
High Rise Fine Global Dining, Highest Restaurant In The World
Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE
Elegant Modern Australian with Molecular Gastronomic dining 
Melbourne, Australia
Haute French Restaurant
Paris, France

Impeccably prepared French fine dining 
Dublin, Ireland
Contemporary, African-French Tasting Journey
Franschhoek, South Africa
Highly creative new American molecular gastronomy tasting menus
Chicago, Illinois, USA

Other Pictures:

“Culinary perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, 
But in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”
-Angelique Arnauld (1591-1661)


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